/ Health

Have you planned for care in later life?

Pensions savings

Only a small fraction of us are planning for care costs in later life, according to our new research. How concerned should we be?

As I plan my day to day spending, I don’t think much further than the next holiday. Even home improvements that are a year away seem too far in the future to save for.

So it doesn’t altogether surprise me that only one in ten adults aged 55 years or over say they have put aside money to pay for any care needs as they get older, according to our new research.

Like me, more than half of those over-55s say they are prioritising other things they want or need to do right now, over planning for potential care needs.

And this is backed up by behavioural research: even if we get good information and advice, we don’t want to think about ageing and needing care.


So how can the government help people like me – the non-planners? Well, rather than encouraging me to plan, a new policy report by Which? says it can improve the system to help me live at home for as long as possible in retirement.

When asked to think about what changes they may make if their health and mobility did deteriorate, nine in ten people aged 55 and over said they would be willing to make adaptations to their homes to aid mobility and a similar percentage said they would be willing to use mobility aids outside the home.

This resonates with me. My parents have installed a number of aids and adaptations to help them enjoy their home: the bath lift that allows them a well-earned soak, the riser-recliner chair that looks like a very superior addition to their furniture rather than something you’d find in a hospital, the very smart trolley that also serves as a walking aid.

Such equipment – more acceptable when it looks desirable – could cut falls needing medical treatment by a quarter, and save the NHS and social care services £500m each year, the Centre for Ageing Better estimates.

Info deficit

The key to planning is also good information, but our research tells us that less than half of people know where to look for information about care. This is where Which? Later Life Care can help, which provides information on all aspects of choosing care, including financing and housing options.

The GP is trusted to give good advice and support, along with friends and family, but is the already packed 10-minute GP consultation really the best place to get care information?

What’s needed to make sure people get the advice they need from the places – like the GP surgery – they turn to?

Would you plan for your care? Is it on your list of things to save for? And – as the government works towards an Autumn social care green paper – what do you think is needed to support older people in the best way we can, given that many people use the care system for the first time at a time of crisis?

Populus, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 2104 UK adults online between 11-12 June 2018. The data were weighted to be demographically representative of the population.


Yes, I have given it some thought, much along the lines of the introduction. Hopefully, general health permitting, I can adapt my current home as time goes on. At some stage I might need to move to sheltered accommodation of some sort or another. This, at the top end, is for those who have a vast amount of wealth tied up in property and investments, certainly not in my league! Rents are in the thousands monthly, and properties over priced because they include the care element within them. I would wish to move before it becomes essential to do so, because I want to be in a position to choose where I go rather than being put somewhere. The choice of accommodation will become more limited as more of us need it, and I do worry that, when the time comes, there will be a crisis in this sector. I don’t want to comment too much on finance, because that is personal, but I hope that day to day living can be managed from income and other assets can be helpful in securing a place to live. Exactly how long that will be is not predictable and there is only so much one can plan for until the circumstances become obvious. Again, I hope to be in a position to rationalise this when it happens and not when I fail to understand what’s going on. Mine is an adaptive strategy with a finite purse that will have to cope when decisions are made.

I retired early and moved to a house with a more manageable garden. I could get a gardener to help if needed. One of the downstairs rooms is a study at present but could become a bedroom if going up and down stairs becomes a problem, or fitting a stairlift would be easy.

If I go into care I have savings and there is the value of my home, which I would no longer need. I envisage that I would move closer to my family, but that would mean leaving friends. All in all it’s not a happy prospect, but there is a chance that my nearest family will be moving nearer.

Maybe my biggest problem is that I am single but looking positively it means that I have learned to cope with the requirements of living alone. I’ve known too many married couples where the survivor has not been much good at finances, cooking or just looking after their health.

In a previous Convo I looked at how we could make provision for the cost of providing for our care in later life if it proved necessary. Most people do not need such care, so it seemed best to consider it as an insurance, either state or commercial, that we contributed into during our working life much as we do for a pension. I looked at the % of people who ended up needing a care hone (quite low), the average length of stay (less than two and a half years) and the consequent cost. The monthly premium to make provision for that possibility was not high if contributed throughout a working life.

This kind of care has to be paid for by the public, either through taxation or personal payments, so we need to make provision for it. The money will not magically appear out of nowhere. It is a pay now live later philosophy which many do not like, of course.

That might make sense for those who struggle to save for the future. I suspect it is like buying an extended warranty, where most people are losers rather than winners.

Just like funding the NHS. Mostly losers (don’t use it much) but it helps the “winners”, those who need it, and their need can be very expensive, far more than many could afford.

That’s maybe not the best analogy. We can either save for the future (including buying a house) or make regular payments into a scheme, in the same way that we do with pensions.

The point I was making was against the comment “like buying an extended warranty, where most people are losers rather than winners. where we all put money into a health care system through NI and tax off our earnings, but some (have to) make use of it far more than others. If we each had to pay for every bit of healthcare whee we needed to, many would end up with little or no expense while other could be hit with huge bills. Just like later life care. In both cases insurance for many might be the best solution.

There is no doubt that the NHS and car is linked with numerous stories of bed-blocking adversely affecting the hospitals. A more unified system must be an improvement.

There is a link to the website missing from the first paragraph under the sub-heading “Non-planners”.

Good spot, John. I’ll get this fixed.

My current thinking is that I am likely to end up on my own and will hopefully be more or less sound in mind and body. I am hoping I shall have the wherewithal to eek out an adequate existence and be able to afford to have a full-time live-in nurse/carer/housekeeper – whatever the requirement happens to be. The next few years are actually more worrying than the longer future which will have to take care of itself.

We have downsized and modernised, and are making our living conditions economically sustainable so far as we can in today’s terms. I regret some previous expenditure which could have been avoided and the money would have been more useful in the future. Never mind, we had the pleasure of it during our best years.

I no longer have confidence that the provision we have made will be sufficient to continue leading a decent life. It largely depends on how long we live and our state of health and those are unpredictable. Any government policy has to take that on board. Basically I don’t like to think about it very much and realise that no amount of forward planning can cover everything or determine the timescales so chance will play a significant part.

Being a 1947 baby means that there are going to be a lot of us after the same outcomes, as there have been throughout my life at every stage. I have mixed emotions when I learn of the death of a contemporary. Things have generally been made better but normally only for the following generation as the country has never really caught up with the aftermath of the Second World War.

I have no intention of becoming a burden on other members of the family who have their own stresses and pressures. Nor do I want to spend any significant period of time in a residential home, let alone a care home. One step at a time.

Well-said, John. After rip-off family experience with ‘sheltered housing’, I determined the best plan was to avoid any kind of residential ‘home’ if at all possible. (Obviously if nursing care eventually becomes necessary, it will be a different matter.) So, when my contemporaries were downsizing, I upsized to a future-proof house, with self-contained accommodation. The latter provides a rental income for now, but would be available for a live-in carer. I aim to remain independent for as long as humanly possible.

Commercially-provided residential care is unbelievably expensive – and unfair for self-funders who have to subsidise others. I would not wish to throw myself on the mercy of the current system, which is in a mess. (In any event, I think the provision of ‘care’ is inappropriate for the private sector.)
Too risky to wait, in the hope things will be sorted out by the time I might need support. So I have plans in place to be self-funding in my own home, where I’ll be happiest.

I also wish to say that this is precisely what I’ve been saving for – to make sure my old age is as comfortable as possible. I deplore people who think the State (aka taxpayer) should support them, so they can pass on a generous inheritance. Their assets should be for their own support … not for their children.

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It is all about diversity. Being somewhat *different” can be a very good thing sometimes – providing that the element of difference is not in any way harmful to either one’s self or others. And as you describe, your type of difference is not at all harmful, not in any way, shape or form. Then in this case no one should have the right to prejudice/discriminate against you, hence causing you unnecessary misery and hardship. This is not right at all.
I see far too many people (in their droves) who are the same, the same, the same and exactly the same, and I feel sick to the eyeteeth with them. It’s so irritating because it’s like I am dealing with the same damned person, over and over with just a different mask. Not good!!!!
I can say that I am “very proud” to be “unique”. And I am so glad *not* being one of those miserable pack of lemmings. And just like yourselves, I was not born/designed to fit in with the scenery – I was born to stand out!!!

Patrick Taylor says:
20 August 2018

Our planning stared when we chose jobs with good pensions. I mention this as planning can begin early in life and perhaps this Conversation should reflect on whether the new mandatory pensions regime will answer the problems of the next generation.

Given I spent decades trying to help people make rational spending decisions I am not at all surprised to find most people are under-prepared in monetary terms. Budgets are always under pressure and rampant consumerism and product envy certainly does not help many people plan.

We also have in the UK extremely high housing costs which leeches from the budget. If you live in the South East during a bubble you can sell your property and generally move to a more affordable part of the country and have a significant cash sum. This, if carefully managed, can be very helpful. However for the majority of the country this method of having a capital sum is a pipe dream.

And if you have children assisting them onto the housing ladder will severely dent your ability to have a lump sum. In some cultures buying larger houses and living intergenerationally makes good sense.

“What’s needed to make sure people get the advice they need from the places – like the GP surgery – they turn to?”

A GP is hardly the place for financial advice or planning expenditure. This article does not mention AGE UK, Abbeyfield, or the splendid little charity that researches aids for the elderly spun out of Which? a decade ago. Seems to me that these should be mentioned and examined for what they provide.

Abbeyfield particularly looks to solve problems rather than talk about Govt measures – a worthwhile charity:

Accounts here:
where you will notice £54m turnover and only 14 people out of nealy1000 paid over £60K. Maximum paid was under £200K.

Patrick Taylor says:
20 August 2018

The 2016 report reviews what they are funding to help the aged.

Joanna – Is it possible that the survey actually is constructed in such a way that it is an option? From the aspect of asking a doctor how long you are likely to live then that is reason to speak to your doctor but I do not think any financial planning advice is involved.

Surveys – I wish Which? would campaign to allow people to see the questions asked which lead to the results being quoted. It could start with its own surveys. !

When I have asked for this before I have been told it is “confidential”. Presumably because they don’t use their own team to design surveys but ask people like Populus (who, i believe, pay their respondents – I wonder if that is a good way to get real results?).

As Which? do quite a few surveys I would have thought they could have expertise in house to prepare and handle the results. In view of some very questionable outcomes I would like to see the information given to those surveyed preparatory to being questioned, the questions asked, and the breakdown of responses. Transparency should be the norm.

Providing information based on surveys but denying readers the opportunity see the questions (and the order they were asked) on request is very poor practice in my view. Ideally, no-one should have to ask to see the questions.

Answers will be confidential unless permission is explicitly given but since some people will be informed of the questions during a survey what’s would be the point in having confidential questions?

Joanna: Yep indeed – the GP system/hospital is rendered practically non-existent – hence leaving people neglected. It seems Govt is more than happy to invest in wars and *killing* people, rather than *helping* people. This is what we are dealing with.

Thanks Joanna 🙂

Thanks Joanna. I’m sorry for being critical (and I’m referring to Which? surveys in general rather than any specific one) but unless we have sight of the questions it denies us the opportunity to evaluate the results for ourselves. The way that questions are phrased and even the order in which they appear can make a difference in how users respond.

Joanne and I go back a long way over the issue of Surveys of Care Homes for instance ,in my opinion you are absolutely correct ,it was only when I checked out the methodology etc. was I then able to see what a poor Survey had been carried out ,I have since corresponded with Joanne about it and aired my views, not much has changed it seems. Which? of all people should make themselves open to criticism surely otherwise its a matter of do as we say, not as we do.

I’m a scientist, Gerald, and have only used surveys to collect information and deliberately tried to avoid influencing the outcome – as often done in customer satisfactions surveys. Even if there is no attempt to manipulate the results it’s very easy to do this unintentionally. That’s one reason why it’s important to see the questions with the results of surveys. It’s also good practice to allow users to see all the questions before they start to complete a survey.

We have been asking Which? for years to not only disclose the questions, but any information given to participants about the topic before they start the survey. and to see the non-personalised results.

One sticking point seems to be their use of commercial organisations like Populus. Patrick points out that the 30 000 Connect members may not be representative, but I’m not sure paid survey respondents are either.

I hope there will be changes in survey handling.

There is another aspect to Which? surveys and that is the very restrictive use of information derived from the surveys*. Few will remember that when Connect was launched there was a promise to share data with members. A welcome quid pro quo. This never happened – possibly because Verve Partners took over.

For over 20 years I have been pointing out the flawed logic of asking people if they have had a problem with some product if they do not also ask usage rates. I feel that Which? realises that those authoriative printed statements on durability etc. would seem suspect if the questions they were based on were in the public domain.

* For instance survey results showing how many people had a cooker hood and its brand would be interesting as a perentage of those asked, and compared to the UK as a whole. And may have assisted Which? in commissioning laboratory reports on them if there was an obviously a high take up propensity, a desire for one, or replacement rate.

Michael Foster says:
24 August 2018

Why should I save to pay for any future care I need when I have worked and paid tax along with national insurance all my adult life. When people who have never worked or never will work will get everything provided without any questions asked. Divert the foreign aid budget.

Karen Southworth says:
24 August 2018

Well said Michael! I think the extortionate costs of care for the one’s that have to pay are because they’re propping up the one’s who don’t and imagine the uproar if anyone under retirement age was asked to pay for their own care if they became sick. Younger people with health problems are actually paid benefits to live but yet elderly people who have worked and saved for decades have their money taken off them.

OR how about raking in the Billions in tax that a minority of unpatriotic and greedy citizens evade paying, or is that OK for you?

The percentage of people in this Country who “will not work” is minimal. The DWP has made life for the scroungers impossible. Unfortunately, because of this small minority, entitled claimants lives have also been a living hell, and before you say “good job too”, please remember that people find themselves with a need for assistance, for many reasons other than because they are lazy.

Your suggestion to cut the foreign aid budget tells me all I need to know about you mate.

Absolute drivel Karen.

So the extortionate costs of care have nothing to do with privatisation of a system that creates millionaire Care Home owners, who’s fees are so high that they are sucking the NHS and private patients dry. You will find very, very few, if any, poor care home owners.

And do not forget the drastic financial starvation of the NHS, by this Conservative Government. They have cut funding for my care and your care, and they will soon be cutting even more, so look at who really is to blame, without blaming everyone else but them.

Hi everyone. Just a reminder to continue being polite and courteous, even when there are differences of opinion. Some interesting points have been raised here – let’s continue to debate them in a friendly way 🙂

Stephen Mann says:
24 August 2018

It’s a tricky one. It does seem unfair that those who are prudent with money and have saved or accumulated a good pot of money are penalised for this if they need care as the system plunders that pot, whereas those who either haven’t been able to save or are just plain reckless with their money and don’t have that pot are able to take advantage of ‘free’ care (which again is probably paid for by those who have saved or earned?!)

Barbara Gilman says:
24 August 2018

Am 75, single, no family in the UK, rarely think about it and am not particularly bothered!

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I have always been conscious that the need for extra money in old age is essential, not only for nursing home care, but for help around the house & garden,therefore have always been careful with my money, and still try to save a little out of my pension. We are reasonably comfortable, but should either of us go into care, I do worry if our savings would be adequate

We put a little away for future care but we are confused by the status of care legislation. In 2015 there was new legislation which capped care costs. This was defered to 2016 and capped the cost to £72k. This was defered yet again to 2020. What we do not know is whether the costs are being recorded now, since 2015 or whether they will start adding up costs from 2020. I already pay a percentage of care costs for my 67 year old, stroke victim wife

Nowat Amin says:
24 August 2018

I live in Jersey and I am astounded that no one in the UK has ever written about the Long Term Care Scheme introduced, some years back, in Jersey to fund all local residents who require either care at home or in a home.

I became seriously ill in 2002 and had to give up work. Although the life-threatening crisis was eventually averted, I was left with a number of disabilities that have prevented me from working since. Unfortunately, due to the fact that I’ve been living off various disability benefits for the last 16 years it’s been impossible to save in any meaningful way. I simply don’t have sufficient resources to put money aside, in fact I recently calculated that my finances run at a permanent deficit of around £10-£25 per month, which means I have to decide which “essential” I’m going to do without as the end of each month approaches…

Yes I’m in a similar position despite having worked full time for 30 years. It’s amazing how quickly your savings disappear once you have chronic illness and can no longer work. Also amazing how people who have been lucky enough to never have to rely on state benefits seem to think it’s like ‘living the life of Riley’. It really is a pittance and a struggle and it really is a very small minority of claims that are fraudulent (the governments own figures are a mere 0.7% which is a drop in the ocean compared to tax fraud and evasion).

Brian Arthur says:
24 August 2018

Care costs are hundreds of pounds per week.
How many people can fund that for more than 3 years assuming the house is used to pay the bill?
The numbers don’t add up for most people so government is required to step in.
However they just do nothing because the cost will be in the billions.
This problem needs a government with a human face and there is not much chance of that.

I think a lot of us are actually in denial – taking the view that
“It won’t happen to me. I’ll live an active life then die peacefully in my sleep.”
Much of this is based on the average life expectancy prevalent when the NHS, National Insurance, State pensions etc came into being, which for a man was 70, I believe.
It could be a wake-up call to discover, now that modern healthcare has lengthened our life expectancy into our 90’s, just how many of us will typically need expensive specialist care before we die. Meanwhile we will continue looking at the urgent needs around us (children needing mortgages etc), and ignoring what could happen to us. I am trying to ensure I have some money in the bank, but no idea if it will be enough.

NOW ON DISABILITY, NEVER had enough money to save or afford a mortgage, rent from the council, private rents are too expensive

It is too late for me to plan, I am 66 and retired. Another poorly thought out and badly implanted government scheme that will be put over to insurance companies to manage, just like Sun Life. No confidence, would not save if I could, someone will steal it all.

The greatest concern we have is the removal of state health care when Brxit hits us. Finding funds for private health care as well as long term care in an age of the collapsing pound which has decimated the value of our pensions. With a failed property market our property investments have lost massively also. Equally we could never afford the living costs in England so can’t think of moving to England either – put simply we are trapped. …. Jávea Spain

As a woman born in 1954 I have had my pension age moved twice, I’m caring for a 93 year old Mother and I have cancer. So there there is no spare opportunity to “plan”. I’m living on my pension of £90 week.

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Hello Mindgardner – as Duncan Lucas says, there is social care support out there. If your mother hasn’t had a needs assessment done by her local authority, then contact her local authority and ask to speak to social services to request this. It’s free and available to all and is worth arranging because you might find that there is financial support available for your mother to help pay for her care. You can read more about the needs assessment on Which? Elderly Care here:

Your mother might also be eligible for attendance allowance, which isn’t means tested and can provide £57.30 a week if your mother needs care by day or night and £85.60 per week if she needs help both day and night. You can find out more about this and how to apply here:

I hope this might help you.

All the best,


Hello Mindgardner – as Duncan Lucas says, there is social care support out there. If your mother hasn’t had a needs assessment done by her local authority, then contact her local authority and ask to speak to social services to request this. It’s free and available to all and is worth arranging because you might find that there is financial support available for your mother to help pay for her care. You can read more about the needs assessment on Which? Elderly Care here:

Your mother might also be eligible for attendance allowance, which isn’t means tested and can provide £57.30 a week if your mother needs care by day or night and £85.60 per week if she needs help both day and night. You can find out more about this and how to apply here:

I hope this might help you.

All the best,